As you are all aware, because heaven knows I bang on about it enough, I lead a very busy life and because the tolerances for error are quite small, I sometimes make a comprehensive fuck up of things. Quite a lot of the time, to be honest. One of my specialities on this front is turning up at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s the latest instance of this which I’d like to share with you now. It happened like this …
McMini and I are sitting at home relaxing after he’s come home from school when I open an email from the school. It is a new layout, and it starts like this.
Thursday 8th January,
SATS evening for parents.
On Thursday 17th January at 6pm, we will be holding an information event …
PFC – pretty fucking clear – right? Er, no. Not to muggins here. I have seen the date at the top, Thursday which is tonight, and the title, SATS evening for parents, and so I ignore the body of the letter, because I’m far too fucking busy to read that, and merely scan for the start time, ah yes, 6.00pm.
I look at my watch.
‘Shit it’s five o’clock!’
‘What’s up Mum?’ says a cheery voice from the other room.
‘The school is doing a thing about your SATS and it’s tonight, at six pm.’
‘Oh what? Do we have to go?’
‘Afraid so, it’s really important.’
McMini appears in the hall all rolling eyes and sighs, ‘Won’t Dad be back in time for me to stay here?’
‘Not at six, no, sorry.’
‘Oh well, I have some charge on my iPad, can I bring that?’
‘Yes, and your reading homework, you can write your book report while your’re there.’
He’s leaning over my arm, reading the email on my phone.
‘Hang on Mum, it says kids aren’t allowed.’
‘No it says it’s not for you, I can still bring you along if I’ve nowhere else to put you, they just mean that I don’t have to bring you if there’s someone you can stay with at home.’
So we get ready but we take too long so we have to go in the car because there isn’t time to walk. When I get up there, we are, parking, and of course it’s one of those ones where it goes wrong. You know how, when you’re in a hurry, you always get the angle wrong and have to come back out and start again. Off we go, second time, reverse, turn, turn, turn, ‘MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!’
I used to have a car with a hooter in the centre of the steering wheel and I beeped it with my elbow every time I reversed. This car has two hooter switches, one each side. Someone does something stupid on the motorway, nearly killing us all and can I find the hooter? Can I buffalo? But I still manage to beep the fucking thing by mistake every. Sodding. Time. I. Park! Maybe when I’m next in a dangerous situation, I should try not to hoot, then I might chuffing manage it.
McMini puts on an expression of mock shock at me for swearing and in his best Walter from Dennis the Menace voice he says,
‘Mother I’ve told you about swearing in front of me, you’re setting a very bad example.’
‘I know, I’m a terrible mother,’ I reply, giggling because I know he’s only taking the piss.
‘There’s an old man in that house staring out of the window at us, he’s looking very disapproving.’
‘I expect he is. I’m making a right pig’s ear of this parking.’
‘It’s not the parking, I don’t think he liked you hooting.’
‘I don’t blame him. I didn’t either. Right,’ I haul the handbrake on. ‘Come on, let’s go.’
Immediately a stream of cars comes up the street so we have to wait for them to pass before McMini can get out.
‘It’s the Truman Show!’ he says cheerfully. ‘They’ve been waiting ages to drive up here at the moment it would be most annoying for you.’
I heartily agree. My whole life’s the fucking Truman Show in that respect,
We arrive at the school as the clock on the church two streets over strikes six. Woot. Not exactly timely but we won’t have to do the walk of shame to the only seats left (at the front). Well, no, that’s not true. We will have to do the walk of shame but at least we won’t be doing it after the talk has started. I push the button to open the door but there’s no-one to buzz us through the air-lock or whatever they call the next bit.
Just then, two teachers appear and they come out and ask us if they can help. We say why we are there and they buzz us in.
‘Are you sure it’s tonight?’ asks one.
I’m not as it happens. I meant to check the email before leaving. ‘I thought it was,’ I say weakly.
‘The light’s aren’t on and there’s no-one else in the hall,’ says the other.
‘Uh … right,’ I say.
‘I’ll go and ask Mr Hammond,’ (the headmaster) ‘he’s still in his office,’ says the first one and she runs off up the stairs.
I have an Ely. That is, according to The Meaning of Liff, the first tiniest inkling that something has gone horribly wrong.
‘Hmm … I’m a bit of a spanner with dates, I may have stuffed up,’ I tell the other teacher as we wait. ‘Hang on, I’ll check the email.’
I get the email open and see that I have, indeed, misread it.
‘Shit,’ I say before I can stop myself. ‘Sorry,’ I start laughing, because cheery apology seems the best way to play it, ‘Will you look at that? I’m such a bell-end, I’ve got the wrong day.’ I remember that the other teacher has gone to get the headmaster. ‘Oh no I’m so sorry, and now I’ve woken the Kraken and everything!’ I say as I turn and realise Mr Hammond and the other teacher have just arrived and heard everything, including the bit where I refer to the act of fetching him from his office as ‘waking the Kraken’.
He looks knackered and I apologise for dragging him away from his work. The three of them are all extremely good natured and up beat about it, I’d have told me to fuck off! and we laugh and apologise cheerily and McMini and I go away marvelling, in a slightly giggly way, at my complete ineptitude. As I get into the car. McMini says,
‘Mother you swore in front of the teachers, you said ‘shit’ and you called yourself a bell-end in front of Mr Hammond.’
‘Oh dear, did I?’
‘Yes you did! You know in early years, when I said bollocks and I got told off and they asked me where I got it from and I said ‘my mum’ and they didn’t’ believe me?’ he says, reminding me of yet another example of exemplary parenting from my past.
‘Yes I do,’ I reply.
‘Well they know I wasn’t lying now! Because they’ve heard you swearing, so they know it was you and they know you’re a foul-mouthed shrek-lady. They’ve got … what is it when you have loads of evidence?’
‘Cast iron proof?’
‘They’ve got me bang to rights?’
‘That’s the one! They now have you bang to rights because they have concrete evidence that you swear in front of me and not just in front of me but in front of the headmaster! They know you are a very bad mother.’
We start laughing about this but I do manage to leave the parking space without beeping the chuffing hooter again and the Disapproving Man has gone from the window so I thank the lord for small mercies.
‘I am a bad mother, but, at the same time, I must be doing something right if I have such a good, well mannered little boy.’ Obviously, I say this in a really syrupy voice, like the Walter the Softee one he does when he calls me ‘mother’.
‘True mother, despite your somewhat idiosyncratic parenting you really have produced a most charming and well behaved child.’
‘Exactly, you hear and see me behaving extremely badly but you don’t, that has to count for something,’ I say. ‘Although, they’ll be wondering back there, won’t they?’
‘Yes, they’ll be saying to each other, “how could such an evil crone produce such a perfect little boy?”’
‘Indeed. Why is he not affected by that potty-mouthed harridan he calls his mother? Mr Hammond has probably had to go and have a lie down.’
‘I bet he does an assembly about it tomorrow, he’ll say McMini is a lovely charming little boy despite the fact his mother is a horrific, sweary, shrek-like crone!’
‘That’s right, he’ll say I’m dirty! A dirty, filthy, vile, morally-dissolute, harridan!’
‘And a shrek!’
‘And a shrek.’
We spend the journey home coming up with more and more colourful adjectives for fictional Mr Hammond to use in assembly while describing my dreadfulness, and shouting them at a higher and higher volume, as if his fictional disapproval is moving from strongly-voiced, through angry to apoplectic. The incongruity of this, when placed against the actual, real Mr Hammond, who is is the most calm, measured and even-tempered person you could care to meet, is a source of childish amusement to both of us.
We continue randomly shouting pejorative adjectives at one another for several days.
I really should be setting an example.
Yeh but …
Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.